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Have a Voice through Citizenship

September 30, 2016
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Maria Rendon never thought about becoming a U.S. citizen. As a lawful permanent resident (LPR) from Mexico, she’s proud of her heritage.

“I’m proud of my origin and my accent,” says Maria. “America became my home, but I still wasn’t ready to become a citizen. I also didn’t think it would be very easy.”

Maria moved to the U.S. in 1985 when she was barely 20-years-old. She didn’t speak a word of English.

She worked in a laundromat during the day and went to school at night, earning her General Education Development (GED) degree.

She later took college courses in finance and accounting.

It wasn’t until 2008, when Maria’s mother naturalized at the age of 77, that she began thinking about citizenship for herself.

“I thought, ‘if she can do it, what’s going to stop me?’” Maria says.

Maria started to seriously consider applying for citizenship once her mother and husband naturalized. The upcoming presidential election also motivated her to take the next step.

She sought the help of the East Bay Naturalization Collaborative, a New Americans Campaign partner, who assisted Maria with the application and test preparation.

Maria became a new U.S. citizen in June.

“I’ve lived in this country for a long time. I’ve built a life, work, and my family is here,” says Maria. “I haven’t traveled to Mexico in ten years, and I don’t think I will ever go back to live there. This is my home. I wanted to have a voice. I wanted to be heard. Why not?”

She thinks more LPRs should pursue citizenship. Her advice?

“Don’t let anything, like not knowing English fluently, hold you back,” says Maria. “Don’t be scared, go for it, it’s easy! We are part of this society, we can be a part in the best possible way if we become citizens.”